Playing By Heart


I thoroughly enjoyed “Playing by Heart” and hated to see it come to an end. I was actually somewhat surprised at the course of Lula’s career – probably due to the book’s cover. The story is told in first person with chapters alternating between the two primary characters, Lula and Chet. I found it fun to see the book’s events through both points of view and felt like it gave me an inside track to how everything would turn out.

A historical romance set during World War 1, “Playing by Heart” is about two people whose lives have been shaped by the expectations of others. Lula has pursued a career in mathematics primarily to overcome her schooldays nickname of “Fruity Lu” and to prove herself to her father and her siblings. Chet has remained in his hometown to take care of his widowed mother while his brother serves in the army during the war but knows he can never live up to his brother in his mother’s eyes. The narrative examines the futility of attempting to meet the expectations of others and the importance of being the person the Lord designed one to be.

I enjoyed the historical aspect of the story, especially the early history of both men and women’s basketball. It was also interesting to learn how different life was for women in our not so distant past, especially when it came to a career. The characters came to life on the pages and the plot moved at a steady and believable pace. I was not exactly crazy about the ending but even that was quite realistic in that Chet had to follow through on a hasty decision made when highly emotional and a happy-ever-after had to be delayed for awhile.

I highly recommend “Playing by Heart” and hope you will give it a chance.

This book was provided for review by The Book Club Network.


Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn’t even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys’ coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She’s returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel’s family, the girls’ basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she’s given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she’d expected.


Ann MateerAnne Mateer has loved reading and writing stories since childhood. In 2000, she began studying the craft of fiction and working toward publication. Ten years later, she received her first book contract. Anne is a three time Genesis contest finalist, a Carol Award finalist, and a contributor to A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Anne and her equally history-obsessed husband live in Texas. They are the proud parents of three young adults who spent many family vacations touring historical sites.